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Innovation & TAS

The network of Old Boys make a strong contribution to the growth and development of the students at Waverley College. Old Boys like Chris Panzetta are often invited back to speak to the students about their experiences beyond Waverley. Hearing how Chris applied what he learned here at both university and in the workplace has inspired our Technology and Applied Studies (TAS) students to think more carefully about innovation and what they want to achieve from their studies.

"Waverley gave me the ability to be able to manage other people, to build values and character, and that is so important. You need to have a strong sense of self, to stay calm under pressure."

Chris Panzetta (Old Boy, Class of 2003) works at virtual-reality design company S1T2

Students in TAS room with ex student looking at phone

Chris Panzetta with the Year 11 TAS class

Chris, Old Boy:

I studied a media and communications degree and learnt a lot about animation, sound and design and stuff like that. I work with a lot of structural designers now. A lot of what we do is building sculptures. What they can do just amazes me … We work with virtual reality and we produce installations for Sydney’s Vivid Festival. We just visited the warehouse yesterday – the idea behind our sculpture comes from my grandmother – she’s suffering from Alzheimer’s. Vivid is one thing we can do where it’s not centred around the client, which is great – to be able do something that you really care about.

Teacher takling to students in TAS room

TAS teacher James Spargo

James, TAS teacher:

The subjects in Technology and Applied Studies (TAS) are Design and Technology, Industrial Technology, Timber and Multimedia, Engineering, Food Technology with Hospitality and Construction. We are trying to push the academic side of TAS – a lot of people still think that it’s manual arts. In the past, you would give the students a set brief and they would all come back with something exactly the same. We are trying to push them to think more about the design and develop their higher order thinking so that kids see TAS as an academic pathway – not necessarily heading towards a trade, although that’s still an option.

Chris, Old Boy:

That’s so right, the people doing the best work are the ones that are thinking – they can do so much more.

Students in TAS room

Chris explains his views to the students

Chris, Old Boy:

Creative thinking is the most important form of expression. The difference between this piece and that piece is that this is created by a group of people. There’s always going to be someone better than you, but it’s all about working with them and joining your ideas.

James, TAS teacher:

Having ex-students come and visit gives the students some perspective, and an industry perspective as well. Obviously we teach lots of subjects here, but it’s good for the boys to see someone using it out there every day. So they get to review the latest developments and thinking, and it inspires the boys to aim to be in that realm.

Students in TAS room

Jake, TAS student, Year 11:

I love TAS! It’s my favourite subject. You have the freedom to create whatever you want. I’m thinking I’d like to be an architect or structural engineer.

Jaya, TAS student, Year 11:

I’d love to pursue something like this as a career. I hope I can get the marks to get me there.

Bryce, TAS student, Year 11:

I wouldn’t mind getting into the design-type industry, I don’t really know what element I want to get into yet, but yeah, I’m definitely considering doing something in design after school.

Walter, TAS student, year 11:

I’d love to do something like this at university, I’m really hoping my marks will get me there.

Senior student and teacher in TAS classroom

Chris, Old Boy:

Higher education is definitely important because it teaches you how to ask questions, and there’s value there. But it’s not the be all and end all. I definitely think if you’re creative, people want to see what you do, what you stand for. It’s not just about what’s on your CV, if you can show you stand for something and how you express yourself, that’s what the whole industry is about … It’s more about character than talent to be innovative. It can be scary and you need that strong base, because it is so important to collaborate with other people. You can’t go it alone – if you do, you’re just shutting yourself off from the world.

Jaya, TAS student, year 11:

It’s really inspiring seeing ex-students come back – that Chris has done so much after leaving school, and that you can do things with this subject.

Students in TAS room

James, TAS teacher:

I think with CAD and other design programs it takes lots of higher-order thinking skills to be able to design using those programs. You also have a 3D printer to then create it for you, so students who aren’t very good with their hands, but are intellectual, can come out with a product at the end of it that looks professional.

Having ex-students come back to the school is something that we can pursue and really tap into. These guys need to talk to a lot of people rather than just having one teacher – you need a lot of different opinions to get you to where you want to be.

Students in TAS room

Chris, Old Boy:

Waverley gave me the ability to be able to manage other people, to build values and character, and that is so important. You need to have a strong sense of self, to stay calm under pressure … I was in a very different mind space back in school. I did Cadets and two of my Cadets teachers were probably my biggest influences at school. I looked up to Mr Evans a lot. I remember being lazy and saying I wanted to be Quartermaster, but instead they made me head of the platoon and encouraged me to take on that leadership and responsibility.

I notice now in the workplace that if someone hasn’t been nurtured in that way and hasn’t been encouraged to make a difference themselves it’s really hard to make that jump from nothing. Cadets taught me to step up and take charge – those skills can be applicable everywhere.